Ambulances will not respond if an elderly person falls during a strike, the health secretary warned

"Right now the union is saying those things won't be covered," said Steve Barclay

Ambulance paramedics will not respond to falls at home by parents when they break down later this month, the health secretary has warned.

Steve Barclay says talks are starting now to decide which incidents will trigger call-outs during the strike — but the indicated category three calls, including falls, will not.

"Right now, unions are saying those things are not going to be discussed," Barclay said, saying they "don't want to go into detail" before the strikes are declared, for Dec. 21 and 28.

He warned: “They have said they will endure life-threatening conditions, so that tends to reduce such cases. They are usually called category three.”

Mr Barclay said he expected category two emergency calls - for a stroke, for example - would be prioritized, alongside category one which is a life-threatening illness or injury.

The health secretary was accused of refusing to hold detailed talks on salaries with unions, but accused them of creating "preconditions" when negotiations were necessary on broader issues.

And he insisted the public would not support a rise in public sector workers' wages in line with soaring inflation as it would cost £28 billion.

"I think many of your viewers who are facing pressure with the cost of living would say it would cost them and each household a further £1,000 to pay an additional £28 billion, at a time of cost of living pressures, would be too much," he told Sky News.

Ambulance workers have gone on strike after being offered a 4 percent pay increase – when the inflation rate was above 11 percent.

The 21 December action will involve around 25,000 paramedics, call handlers and emergency care assistants in 10 of 11 trusts in England and Wales. Further strikes in 9 trusts would take place a week later.

Union leaders will meet with NHS England and industry associations on Thursday to agree on which types of emergency calls they will respond to.

Ministers have hinted that soldiers will be deployed to drive ambulances but no decision has been made on strike planning which is usually left up to local NHS bosses.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "Obviously, if there is a risk of not being able to provide emergency services, it is likely that troops will have to be deployed."

Asked if he accepted the word "crisis" to describe the NHS, Barclay told the BBC: "People can use whatever term they want."

The health secretary also said there is no shortage of antibiotics to treat people amid the increasing number of Strep A cases.

“We are in very close contact with our medical suppliers. They are obliged to notify us if there is a shortage of supply. So far they haven't done it," he said.

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